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Archive for March, 2011

U.S. Has Proof Ex-FBI Agent Who Went Missing in Iran in 2007 is Still Alive, AP Reports

Robert Levinson

UPDATE: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton issued this statement on Thursday:”As we approach the fourth anniversary of Bob Levinson’s disappearance, we have received recent indications that Bob is being held somewhere in southwest Asia. As the Government of Iran has previously offered its assistance in this matter, we respectfully request the Iranian government to undertake humanitarian efforts to safely return and reunite Bob with his family. We would appreciate the Iranian government’s efforts in this matter.”

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials have proof that missing ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished while visiting an island off  Iran in March 2007, is still alive, the Associated Press reported.

A U.S. official told ticklethewire.com that Levinson is not in Iran, but declined to divulge more details.

AP reported that the proof has “intensified secret negotiations to bring him home.” AP did not disclose more details and the FBI did not immediately return a call for comment.

Iran repeatedly said it had no information on his whereabouts even though U.S. officials suspected he had been abducted by the Iranian government.

Last month, Iran’s elite military force, the Revolutionary Guards, denied a report generated by WikiLeaks documents that suggested it was holding, or had held, Levinson.

“We deny the arrest of the FBI agent and if the Guards had arrested an enemy, it would announce itself,” the head of the Guards, commander Mohammad Ali Jafari, told reporters, according to ILNA news agency.

A WikiLeaks cable suggested that missing ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson, who went missing in 2007 while working as a private investigator in the Persian Gulf, was being held — at least at one point — in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s prison, according to a report in the The Telegraph in London.

One prevailing thought all along was that the 63 year old, who wasn’t in the best of health — high blood pressure and diabetes — might have died.

Paul Bresson, an FBI spokesman said: “It remains an ongoing investigation and our goal remains to bring him home safely.”

NY FBI Cuts Agents Probing Mafia Weeks After Big Bust


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Mob reporter Jerry Capeci of the website Gang Land News writes in a story posted Thursday:

“Did the Justice Department just orchestrate a bait-and-switch scam on a gullible, eager-to-believe citizenry? Six weeks after the feds loudly proclaimed that they are still pursuing mobsters with a vengeance, the FBI has quietly cut the number of New York squads that investigate the notorious Five Families.”

Capeci, a former N.Y. Daily News reporter, reports that there used to be an FBI squad for each of New York’s five crime families. Now it’s down to three.

“It’s not just re-organizing either,” Capeci writes. “The total number of mob-busting agents is also cut by some 25 per cent, Gang Land has learned.

Gang Land reports that the cuts mean the N.Y. FBi only has about 45 agents investigating roughly 700 mobsters and another 7,000 associates.

The report comes just weeks after the Justice Department, with much fanfare, announced the biggest mobster round up in FBI history after it indicted 127 people in the Northeast.

To read more click here. (Gang Land is a Pay-Website)

ICE Still Investigating Who Leaked Immigration Info About President’s Aunt Before 2008 Election

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –– Who leaked the info on President Obama’s aunt’s immigration status days before the 2008 election campaign?

Well, according to the website Talking Points Memo, the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility still wants to know.

The Office of Professional Responsibility still has an “ongoing law enforcement investigation”, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officer Catrina M. Pavlik-Keenan wrote in response to a FOIA request from the website.

AP reported three days before the 2008 election that Obama’s aunt Zeituni Onyango was in the country illegally. TPM reported that it was told in August by the Department of Homeland Security that the investigation was wrapping up.

Appeals Court Uphold Murder Conviction of Ex-Bost FBI Agent John Connolly

John Connolly

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Rogue Boston FBI agent John Connolly, who was faulted for getting too close to his mob informants, will remain behind bars.

The Miami Herald reports that the Florida Third District of Appeal on Wednesday upheld his 2008 conviction in the murder of Miami Jai-Alai executive John Callahan in 1982. He  was found in a trunk at the Miami International Airport.

Connolly, 70, was convicted by a Miami-Dade jury of second-degree murder for leaking sensitive information about Callahan to Boston mobsters and FBI informants James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, the Herald reported. After getting the information, authorities allege that the two then put a hit out on Callahan. Flemmi is behind bars and Bulger remains a fugitive. Connolly was sentenced to  40 years.

“They are going to put me in prison for the rest of my life for a crime I had nothing to do with,” Connolly told the Associated Press in phone interview from prison. “How is this justice? How is this possible? They got what they want.”

“We’re very delighted with the decision,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said Wednesday night, according to the Miami Herald. “He was an FBI agent. He had all the power. He had guns. He had information. And he betrayed all that and people died.”

President Nominates 3 U.S. Attorneys and 3 U.S. Marshals

Thomas Walker

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday nominated three  U.S. Attorneys and three U.S. Marshals.

The nominees for U.S. Attorney include Charlotte lawyer Thomas Gray Walker for North Carolina’s Eastern District, assistant U.S. Attorney Felicia Adams for the Northern District of Mississippi and S. Amanda Marshall.

So far, according to the Justice Department, 76 U.S. Attorneys have been nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate. Five of the current U.S. Attorneys were nominated by President Bush.

Walker had previously been nominated in 2009, but senators wanted the current U.S. Attorney George Holding, a Bush appointee, to finish up some key investigations including one into campaign contributions involving former Sen. John Edwards.

Felicia Adams is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Mississippi and worked as a prosecutor from 1989 to 2000 in the Northern District.  Amanda Marshall, like Walker, had previously been nominated by the president, but the Senate failed to act on the nomination the first time before it recessed in December. She is a child advocacy lawyer for the Oregon Department of Justice, according to the news website  Main Justice.

For U.S. Marshal, the president nominated: Ponca City Police Chief Clayton D. Johnson for the Northern District of Oklahoma; Alfred Cooper Lomax for the Western District of Missouri and Charles F. Salina for the Western District of New York.

Salina has been with the Marshals Service since 1988. Alfred Cooper Lomax spent nearly 30 years with the Kansas City Police Department before becoming Chief of Airport Safety and Security at the Kansas City International Airport.

Calif. Student Sues FBI for Putting GPS Tracking Device on Car

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 20-year-old Egyptian-American college student in California filed a lawsuit against the FBI on Wednesday, saying the agency violated his civil rights when it secretly placed a GPS tracking device on his car, the Associated Press reported.

Yasir Afifi, a student at Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif., who insists the FBI has no reason to show interest in him, discovered the tracking device last October after a mechanic doing an oil change pointed it out, AP reported. The suit was filed by Council on American-Islamic Relations, claims the FBI violated his civil rights by putting the device on his car without a warrant.

AP reported that Afifi travels frequently to the Middle East and helps support his two brothers. His late father, awell-known Islamic-American community leader, died last year in Egypt.

FBI spokesman Michael Kortan declined to talk specifics, but told the AP: “The FBI conducts investigations under well-established Department of Justice and FBI guidelines that determine what investigative steps or techniques are appropriate. Those guidelines also ensure the protection of civil and constitutional rights.”

Mexico’s Calderon Expected to Discuss U.S. Agents Carrying Guns in His Country

President Calderon/file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The issue of allowing U.S. federal agents stationed in Mexico to carry guns is expected to surface when Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon comes to the White House Thursday, the Washington Post reports.

The anticipated conversation over guns comes in the wake of a shooting last month in which an ICE agent was murdered and another wounded as they traveled in northern Mexico. Both were assigned to the ICE attache office in Mexico City. Agents currently are banned from carrying guns.

In an interview last week in Mexico, Calderon sharply criticized the U.S. for failing to do enough to reduce America’s appetite for illegal drugs and to address the burgeoning problem of U.S. weapons coming into the country.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Trial Set for March 16 for Man Who Made Terrorist Threats on Facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Trial begins later this month for a Virginia man who wrote on Facebook that he planned to blow up the D.C. area subway system, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

The paper’s Bruce Alpert reports that the trial against Awais Younis,25, will only deal with the threats he made against the Louisiana woman who turned him, and not the actual threats he posted on Facebook. The trial is set for March 16 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va.

Alpert wrote that “the decision not to charge Younis with terrorist-related charges might indicate that either the Justice Department didn’t find evidence he was serious about his threats against the Washington subway and sewer system, or that he was incapable of carrying them out.”

The paper reported that authorities charged that an informant contacted the New Orleans FBI on Nov. 28 and said during a chat on Facebook that Younis discussed building pipe bombs and detonating them on the subway cars.

Once the FBI began looking into the matter, the defendant made threats against the informant and her father during a Facebook chat, the paper reported.

“Bitch, I know what you are up too and you better stop if you know what is good for you!!!!…that is the problem with americans they cant leave well enough alone until something happends then they sit there wondering why we dropped the twin towers like a bad habit hahaha,” was his message, according to the paper.